Day 3224 – How To Celebrate When You’re A Recovered Alcoholic

I have been sober for 3.61 years, 1318 days, but I still have struggles about some aspects of sobriety. One thing that I loved about drinking was celebrating. Having a cold beer on a warm day, enjoying wine on a porch, or champagne for big celebrations. There is a feeling of “missing out” on these things. I definitely have “I wish I didn’t have a problem with this, because I would love to drink this or that in this moment.”

I understand this is my choice to not drink. I understand I miss out on things because of it. I understand I’m in the minority. So when there are companies that put out quality non-alcoholic drinks, I feel seen, cared for, and appreciated.

Last week, I made a big commitment to myself and a new project. I am so proud of myself and wanted to celebrate. I went to a local grocery store, and happened upon their non-alcoholic drinks. I have to say, the Fre company is really on point with their drinks. They happened to have a Brut Sparkling alcohol removed wine/champagne.

Because someone, somewhere, thought of a person like me, in a unique situation, I was able to pop the cork, and drink the bubbly. What’s even better is that it’s lasted a few days, so even now, it’s fizzy….as I drink it out of the bottle.

Sober friends, have you ever had any of these drinks?

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Day 3183 – Reflections On 3.5 Years Of Sobriety

In some ways, I feel like I’ve always been sober. I feel so far removed from my drinking days that they almost seem like they happened to someone else. I suppose in some respects, that’s true. I am so different from that person. I always heard “people don’t change” so I didn’t try to change myself or others. Looking back on my own struggles and changes, I realize people do and can change, but sometimes it can take a very, very, very long time. I was arrested in 2006 but I didn’t take God at His Word (to be sober-minded) until 2014. I joke that it took me eight years to quit cold turkey. But the truth is it was all God doing a work in me over many many years. It has helped me to be patient with change; to not rush it. Some things take a long time to marinate.

One change from not drinking is the ability to get up early. I still can’t believe we regularly get up at 5:00. But there is so much peace and productivity in the early morning hours. I would never voluntarily get up this early in my drinking days.

An awesome blogger I follow (No Wine I’m Fine) celebrates big anniversaries with epic trips. While I’m not taking a trip today, I do count my trip a few weekends ago as a celebration. I do think I’ll take another solo-cation for my four year sobriety anniversary.

One of my life verses is Ecclesiastes 5:20, “For he will not much remember the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with joy in his heart.” I feel like this is a reflection of how I feel about my drinking days. I don’t much remember them (which has made writing my book especially interesting and hard), but God has kept my heart occupied with such joy that even looking back becomes easier.

Hello 3.5 years, here’s to 3.5 more!

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Day 3174 – An Alcoholic Christian – repost

It’s been a while since I shared this, but here’s a snapshot of my alcoholism journey. I’m still working on my book about my alcoholism and now that I have a better idea of the direction and framework, I’m really rocking it out. Stay tuned!

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originally posted 1/10/16
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Today I finally shared my testimony at church. It went SO well. I’m grateful for the process to get to the stage, all of the people who gave me advice and listened to me practice. I only cried at one part (more so in the first service!) which surprised me….but it was always the part I cried when I did cry.

It will be a few days/weeks until the video is online, but I figured there are some who have been waiting to hear the full story. Here is the text of what I shared.

“I am a recovered alcoholic. Not a typical term that you hear, I know. But I didn’t really like “recovering alcoholic” as if I will forever be a sober person struggling to stay sober, not changed completely by God’s work in my life.

I felt God prompting me to share this, even though this isn’t the “easy” testimony. I’ve thought about sharing this in some form or another since about a month or two after I quit drinking.

So why am I sharing it now? I think that what I have to say may help someone realize that if God is telling you to do something, He will give you the strength to walk through it. To fully understand how I got to this point, I have to take you back about 9 years.

I was working a retail job in 2006 and nearly every Friday night, I was out with my co-workers, getting drunk. I didn’t really drink a whole lot before this job, so for me to be going out every Friday night was not like me. But it happened so gradually, I didn’t notice.

In the fall of 2006 I was driving home from another late night at the bar. As I was driving home, I was texting someone saying “man, I should not be driving right now.” I say that and just shake my head at myself. Texting and driving AND drinking and driving. Well, thankfully, I was pulled over before anyone was hurt. I was arrested for a DUI. Having to call my mom to get me out of jail was probably one of the most humbling things I’ve had to do.

I had a few drinks in the weeks that followed, but my lawyer advised me to stop drinking. So I did. I was sober for a year after that. I went to court mandated group meetings and classes. Even sitting in the group, I didn’t think I had a problem. It was just a dumb mistake I made.

When my year of probation was over, I went out and celebrated with some friends….how? By drinking. Again, I look back and shake my head.

In the years that have followed, I haven’t been arrested again, but I have done some really stupid things.

I was so hungover at my best friend’s wedding, that she held MY flowers right before walking down the aisle so I could go throw up.

I’ve thrown up in my friend’s bushes during a party.

I’ve locked myself in the bathroom, at another friend’s house sobbing for nearly an hour because of a movie.

I’ve gotten drunk with clients two days before their wedding.

I’ve gone to church severely hungover.

I’ve snuck hard liquor and not told Bret how much I had to drink.

I’ve drunk cooking wine.

Up until I stopped drinking, on all but one of my getaways with Bret, I would drink myself silly, which cut the trip short and ruined the time.

I’ve missed several opportunities to witness about Christ because I had too much to drink to think clearly.

On the last night I drank, Bret and I were supposed to do evening devotions, but we didn’t because I was so intoxicated.

After many of these humiliating moments, I would swear off alcohol. I would be ashamed of myself. How could a Christian act like this? I’d tell myself I won’t drink again. I would journal and ask God’s forgiveness. Many times, if not every time, this verse came up:

“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”
1 Peter 5:8

Every time I read it, I’d mentally agree and think “this is it. I can do this.”

But then a few months would go by and I would think, “Oh it’s our anniversary,” “Oh, it’s so and so’s birthday,” “Oh! It’s Tuesday!” And there I was again, right back where I was before. It would start slow and then would be a full blown problem again. It was an endless cycle.

My breaking point was not that big of a deal, comparatively. I was watching TV with my mom, and because of the alcohol content, I drank essentially 7 and a half beers….in two hours.

The next morning, like many mornings before, I felt terrible about drinking that much. I again journaled my regrets. Again, “be sober-minded” came up in my devotions. But this time, I really started thinking seriously about it. Previously, I would swear off alcohol right away, but it wasn’t a serious commitment because I really didn’t think it through. This time, I weighed both sides and thought through things for several days.

I finally took my sin seriously.

I reasoned that what I lost by not drinking ever again was not even worth comparing to what I would gain. I finally admitted to myself that I had a problem. I finally admitted I couldn’t do this on my own. I finally surrendered myself to God’s way. I have been sober for about a year and a half.

Here’s what I’ve learned – God very patiently told me to quit drinking, but I didn’t listen for a long time. A VERY long time! When I did though, He very richly blessed me. I haven’t had a craving for alcohol. I haven’t been tempted to drink. I can be around people who drink. I haven’t second guessed my decision. I have found strength I didn’t know I had, His strength in me. It has become an easy thing. I listened to God’s command and I was blessed.

It breaks my heart to think that I have lost out on chances to share my faith with others because of drinking. It stinks that I showed a terrible witness of a Christian to those who didn’t know my Savior. But here’s what I know. Christianity is not about a bunch of perfect people who live perfect lives. It’s not about people who stop sinning when they’re saved. It’s about totally messed up, imperfect, screwed up people coming with absolutely nothing that makes them worthy, throwing up their hands and admitting that they don’t have it all together. It’s believing that Christ was a real person who was fully God and fully man, who came and lived a perfect life that we could not, and died a death to pay for the punishment of our sins, and rose again to defeat death.

The number one response people give when they hear I struggled with this is – I had no idea you dealt with this! It’s easy to hide sin, especially sin you’re ashamed of. I am not ashamed of my sin anymore. I’ve been excited to share because I know what it’s like to be ashamed of sin. I know how it feels to walk into church with downcast eyes. I know how it feels to think you’re the only one who struggles with something. Trust me when I say, you are not the only one who struggles. But I can now more fully say I understand forgiveness. I can more fully express that God is waiting with open arms to take us back. Even after we’ve fallen for the second time…the fiftieth time…the thousandth time.

Now that alcohol is not in my life, there’s room for God to be the most important thing. I now love to be near God, I have such a desire for him and his word. Because I’m not hungover, I can listen to sermons nearly every day and have clarity as I listen. Do you remember how I missed out on evening devotions with Bret? Well, now he’s listening to most of those sermons with me. Our faith is the number one thing we talk about now.

I am now able to be more alert, all the time, for opportunities to serve others. I am aware of the spirit speaking to me – now that he’s not muted by alcohol.

So while I had a terrible witness for 9 years because of drinking, because Christ paid for those sins I am now worthy to stand before a holy God.

2 Corinthians 7:9-10 says, “As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.”

The God that made a way to forgive my sin is the same God that gave me the strength to finally give up a sin I’ve struggled with for over 9 years. He is more than able to give you the strength to finally give up the sin you’ve been struggling with.”

Thank you Daryl for taking this photo!

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Day 3161 – A Surprising Side Effect Of Sobriety

One thing that has really surprised me about sharing my story about my alcoholism and sobriety was confidence.

I struggled with low confidence and low self-esteem for a good portion of my life. I was always fearful of what people would think of me. So, needless to say, I was TERRIFIED of people finding out I got a DUI.

But then, I shared my story at church, and now, I’m writing a book about my drinking. Boy howdy, that is digging even deeper into my struggle.

Yet, I am the most confident I have ever been. I am who I am, and I don’t apologize for it. I don’t do things that aren’t true to me. I say no to things and I don’t feel like I need to apologize or explain myself. I don’t find myself trying to fill empty spaces with empty words.

I say yes to things and I’m not embarrassed if it’s silly.

I am unabashedly me.

It’s hard to look at the person I am today and not be totally surprised. I am worlds apart from the person I was, even just a few years ago. And you know what, I am excited about that fact. It shows just how big and deep of a change God made in me through helping me get sober.

Last night, I finished reading Sober Mercies by Heather Kopp (this is an Amazon Affiliate link. If you click the link and purchase this book, or something else on Amazon, I will get a small percentage of what you order, at not additional cost to you. I only share affiliate links to products I have personally used and love. Having read this book, I heartily recommend it). One thing that has been very hard for me to do is read books about alcoholism and sobriety. I’m not sure if I just wasn’t ready to read them yet or if it was how the author talked about their struggles. Or honestly, if it was just too soon after getting sober to go back to the darker times. I think there will always be aspects that are hard about remembering my alcoholism. There will always be things that I did (or didn’t do) that will haunt me. But my streak of starting an alcoholism memoir and not getting far was broken this week with Sober Mercies. On top of that, it only took me six days to read. Maybe it was that it was written by a Christian and just struck a deep cord – this person understands how hard this is. How seemingly odd it is that someone who knows all these things about God struggles so much. I am grateful for every word. It has given me renewed strength in writing my experiences – even if it means taking a totally different approach.

For my sober friends, what surprising side effects have you seen from your sobriety?

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Day 3147 – When It’s Hard To Be Sober – or – Thoughts On Society And Drinking

There are times it is hard to be sober. I’ll see a drink that looks like so much fun to drink or I’ll read someone’s meme about drinking. It’s the memes where they are making fun of those who are sober that are difficult. The ones that are especially hard are the ones that seem to say – “it’s no fun being sober. I’ll never be sober, because I’d be boring.” As someone who is now sober, and some days feels alone and not normal, seeing that really makes me feel sad. What also makes me sad, is that drinking alcohol is almost the expected thing to do. “Long day at work? Have a glass of wine. Bad break up? Drink from the bottle.”

Why is alcohol the first thing people go to on the best days and the worst days? Why do we say – “Let me buy you a drink to celebrate!” “I’m sorry to hear about that, tell me all about it over a beer.” It’s the default posture of our culture – grab a drink.

It also really bothers me how TV and movies handle alcohol and addiction. While thinking about this topic, I noticed something on a show I happened to be watching. One guest character was dealing with addiction to drugs. He was shown in a negative light. You almost got happy that the characters were treating him with contempt. “We see you have a problem, we caught you in it, ha ha, you need help now.”

Yet in the next scene, we see a main character having a tough day, when offered the chance, they get drunk. We’re told, “oh, you had a bad day? Let’s drown it in alcohol.” This is shown as a fun and perfectly normal response. Forget about your responsibilities and the fact that your bosses are here, have fun! Thankfully the character does make a mistake and is caught. But it’s still glorified.

If you pay attention to how much characters drink in TV shows, you would think every one of them has a drinking problem. I can definitely look back on some of my drinking days, and watching shows about drinking was a trigger. “Oh, hey, so and so is having a drink, I’d like one too, thank you!” But it would leave me hungover the next day, again.

Is it any wonder people struggle with addictions?

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